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A chemical decomposition reaction in which water is added to a compound that then splits to form two or more new compounds. Hydrolysis occurs when a compound, such as a salt, attaches to a water molecule then divides into two components with a hydroxyl ion attached to one (base) and a hydrogen ion attached to the other (acid). For example, hydrolysis of aluminum sulfate (papermaker's alum) forms aluminum hydroxide and sulfuric acid. Another example of hydrolysis is when starch is broken down to glucose.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Hydrolyse (Deut.); hydrolyse (Fr.); hidrólise (Port.)